17th Annual ECSS-Congress, Bruges 2012

Abstract details

Abstract-ID: 726
Session: [MO-SH15] Talent & Career Development
Lecture room: G110
Date & time: 03.07.2014 / 15:00 - 16:00
Title of the paper: Does birth date predict career length in professional sport?
Authors: Steingröver, C.1, Wattie, N.2, Baker, J.2, Schorer, J.1
Institution: 1: Institute of sport science, University of Oldenburg, Germany, 2: School of kinesiology and health science, York University, Toronto, Canada
Department: Department of sport and motion
Country: Germany
Abstract text Introduction Relative age effects (RAEs) refer to differences among individuals in annual cohorts. The effect often favors relatively older members within a cohort and seems to result from differences in maturation and experience among athletes of different chronological age. Recent results suggest that relatively younger players may not always be disadvantaged (Wattie et al., 2007; Schorer et al., 2009). Based on their advantages such as being less likely to be injured, younger players might be able to maximize their career length (CL) (Baker et al., 2013). The aim of our study was to investigate the influence of relative age on CL. We hypothesize that relatively younger players would have longer careers than relatively older ones if RAEs are occurring. Methods The sample included players drafted into the NBA (N = 407), NFL (N = 2380) and NHL (N = 1028) from 1980 to 1989 and who participated in one or more matches. Birthdates and number of games played were collected through the official websites of the professional associations (www.nhl.com, www.nfl.com, www.nba.com). Results In all sports overrepresentations of players born in Q1 were found. However, for the NBA, results were not statistically significant, Chi²(3, n = 535) = 0.77, p = .86, w = .04 and only approached significance in the NFL, Chi²(3, n = 1924) = 7.03, p = .07, w = .06. A clear RAE existed for the NHL, Chi²(3, n = 700) = 66.89, p < .01, w = .31. A one-tailed ANOVA with number of games as dependent variable and birth quartile as between subject factor was calculated to test for differences in CL. In the NHL, a significant difference in matches played between birth quartiles was revealed, showing that relatively younger players from Q4 had the most games F(3,696) = 2.07, p = .05, f = .10. There were no significant effects in the NBA or NFL. Discussion Unlike the results for basketball and football, the significant relationship between relative age and CL in ice-hockey provides further support for the notion that relative age is an important constraint on the development of expertise in ice-hockey. Although the exact reason why relatively younger players have longer careers is not known it is possible that they may be at a lower risk of injury (Wattie et al., 2007) or have developed better playing skills (Schorer et al., 2009). References Baker, J., Koz, D., Kungl, A.-M., Fraser-Thomas, J., & Schorer, J. (2013). HIGH ABIL STUD, 24, 63-76. Schorer, J., Cobley, S., Büsch, D., Bräutigam, H., & Baker, J. (2009). SCAND J MED SCI SPOR, 19, 720-730. Wattie, N., Cobley, S., Macpherson, A., Howard, A., Montelpare, W. J., & Baker, J. (2007). Pediatrics, 120(1), 142-148. Contact: christina.steingroever@uni-oldenburg.de
Topic: Psychology
Keyword I: relative age
Keyword II: career length
Keyword III: expertise